26mm/1.1 Macro Switar, collimated for the G1 and with 6 month factory warranty
Bolex International, the makers of the Bolex movie cameras are located in Yverdon (Switzerland). Most people have heard of Bolex cameras and Switar lenses but few people know the firm is still active building professional 16mm movie cameras and servicing both the cameras and lenses of their existing customer base.
Living only half an hours drive away and with a 26mm/1.1 Macro Switar and a 75mm/2.8 Yvar in need of a CLA (clean, lube and adjust), I wanted to see with my own eyes their operation rather than sending in the lenses.
I phoned them on August 3rd to make sure they were open in this holiday season. They were not, but a manager happened to be in his office and told me to pass by nevertheless provided I could come within the next hour. So off to the motorway. The Bolex building was easy to find, 200 meters from the Yverdon South motorway exit and well indicated with panels. The technician would be back in 2 weeks and I could get the lenses 2 weeks after that.
On August 18 I phoned and had the technician, Mr. Distallevi on the line.
Mr Distallevi near the Bolex reception desk – G1 - Macro Switar 26mm/1.1 - ISO=100 - 1/50 @ f/1.1
He had worked on the lenses the day before and I could fetch them immediately. The meeting with him was very interesting and instructive. He had been working for Bolex for 40 years, starting at age 16.
Kern factory in Aarau
The Kern company in Aarau stopped making lenses in 1991 after being taken over by Leica. The Bolex company bought their stock and spare parts and he took a training at the Kern factory in Aarau. It is now Bolex who has the resources to service and repair Kern lenses, both for movie and Alpa Reflex still cameras.
On my 26mm, the diaphragm was blocked and the depth-of-field preview lever did not work, both of which he could easily fix, but he also gave me an original Kern front lens cap and changed the imperial (feet) distance scale to a metric one. I kept the feet scale as a spare. The lens did not focus to infinity on the G1 with my Jinfinance C-mount adapter. He adjusted it on the collimator so it would focus slightly beyond infinity on my G1 as I had asked him.
It is a splendid lens, probably the most unique of its kind, collimated for the G1 and with 6 months factory warranty, but I am doubtful if it is the best lens for me and whether to keep or sell it.
It is superfast, with excellent color rendition, sharpness, very agreeable to handle, and focuses down to 50 cm.
The DOF-preview lever is a great help in achieving precise focus at full aperture and then closing down the diaphragm to a pre-selected value very fast; it is lighter and much smaller than my Kinoptik 25/2; The DOF indicator is a beauty of precision engineering.
On the minus side, it vignettes very slightly in the corners. But most of all, I do not need such a fast lens. F/2.0 seems enough for me and with the Kinoptik at f/2 I achieve all I need . Am I missing something?
What is your opinion?